Sticks and Stones Won’t Hurt Your SEO Campaign
I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be telling you this, but after everyone leaves the office at night, Susan hangs me over my desk by my toes so that all the knowledge I learned during my time at SEOToolSet training seeps back into my brain. She even makes me sleep with my training manual under my pillow (when I’m allowed a pillow) in hopes I’ll remember more through osmosis. She quizzes me the next day on little bits of knowledge. If I don’t answer her search engine optimization questions fast enough, she beats me with the training manual. Then, she tells me it’s my fault. And that I’m ugly. [Way to show your gratitude. So very fired. –Susan] - Again?
This is why I was super psyched to read Eric Enge’s post over at Search Engine Watch last week regarding comments made by Google Adam Lasnik earlier this year. Adam’s clarification about the impact of spam complaints on your search engine optimization campaign perfectly matched what Bruce had told us during SEOToolSet training. Hearing it played back for me meant there was a smaller chance Susan would fire a nectarine at my head for getting a question wrong that day! Thanks, Eric.
In short, Adam assured some Google Group readers that Google does not "bury" or punish sites simply because a spam complaint has been filed against them. Spam complaints don’t add to votes that can get you kicked out of Google’s index. Adam summed things up stating:
"Having someone (or even 42 MILLION people) report a site as spam will not change how we view a site. Our spam report, rather, helps us to become aware of pages violating our guidelines that we might not yet have crawled… enabling us to have another datapoint in our search quality efforts."
File spam complaints are used to complement and improve Google’s existing algorithm. Google does NOT use spam complaints to create a blacklist of sites. There’s no "three strikes and you’re out" rule that says if Google hears you’re doing something bad you’re automatically in trouble. This isn’t like the way your parents dealt with you and your siblings. Google uses the complaints to better their own spam algorithms.
Of course, if they get a spam complaint regarding your site and you have other "red flag" factors, then, yes, Google will likely do a manual review. If you’re caught using spammy or deceptive strategies you’ll be penalized. If you’re not, you’ll never even know Google reviewed your site.
If Bruce were here he’d tell me to put on shoes (something about OSHA) and then he would say that the reason 42 million spam complaints won’t hurt your search engine optimization campaign is because Google will never penalize you for the actions of others.
Site owners don’t have to worry about negative affects to their rankings because of tactics employed by your competitors. They can mobilize an effort to spam complaint your site to death, they can click on your PPC ads, they can point spammy links in your direction, but your search engine optimization campaign will stay solid. You can only be penalized if you are the one engaging in nefarious behavior. So stop worrying about what your competition is doing, and focused on your own optimization campaign. In the end, that’s all that matter. And of course, if your competition is spamming, go ahead and let Google know.